Workplace Asbestos Exposure: Construction Sites
Prior to the 1980s, those who worked at construction sites were very likely to have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with long, thin, tiny fibers. Because of its heat-resistant and fireproof characteristics, asbestos was used in various materials commonly found at construction sites, including:
- finishing cement
- acoustical plaster and finishes
- patching plaster and fiber
- packing, filler and insulation
- floor and ceiling tiles
- roofing materials (such as felt, shingles, and adhesives)
Construction site workers were likely exposed to high levels of asbestos for two reasons. First, construction site workers regularly constructed buildings and made repairs using asbestos containing materials which, when cut, crushed, or damaged, release toxic asbestos fibers into the air. Second, construction sites were poorly ventilated and workers typically wore no protective clothing or respiratory equipment to prevent asbestos inhalation.
Preventing Asbestos Exposure at Construction Sites
In 1977, to help prevent asbestos exposure at construction sites, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) passed regulations restricting the use of asbestos containing materials in new construction projects. The regulations still permitted, however, the use of existing asbestos containing materials. Therefore, construction site employees may still be at risk for workplace asbestos exposure when working at construction sites with buildings constructed before the 1980s.
Also to help prevent asbestos exposure at construction sites, the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) passed stringent regulations regarding the type of warnings, training and safety equipment companies are required to provide to their construction site employees. These regulations require that:
- asbestos exposure be monitored at construction sites
- protective equipment be worn at construction sites
- hygiene facilities exist at or near construction sites
- health exams be performed on construction site workers
Injured at a Construction Site?
If you or a loved one has been injured by asbestos exposure at a construction site, please contact us today to assess your legal rights.